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1814.] Refutation of Assertions in the News-Letter. 27 



appear to this Board most eligible, 
it should be laid before the heads of 
the Koman Catholic clergy, previous 
to our report. No person acquaint- 
ed with the discipline of the Bo- 
man Catholic church in Ireland can 
doubt that on the sentiments of the 
bishops will depend the degree of 
resistance or co-operation which 
such a plan would receive from the 
subordinate miuisters of their re- 
ligion. From such a communica- 
tion great good might be expected ; 
their assistance might point out prac- 
tical modifications, which might 
otherwise escape our view ; their 
authority, if exerted to forward our 
recommendations, would at once re- 
move the main difficulties in our 
way ; nay, even in the event, which 
is not to be anticipated, of their ab- 
solute disapprobation of our object, 
it might possibly still be found that 
a great step would have been made 
toward* its accomplishment, for 
their sentiments would, no doubt, 
be expressed with such clearness 
and precision, as to leave uo room 
for misconception, as to the reason 
of their dissent; and it would then 
be for public opinion, (the ultimate 
arid best jud4e in such a case,) to 
pronounce on the merits of the plan, 
the spirit in .which it was proposed, 
and the grounds on which it was re- 
jected. 

I have the honour to be, Siiyyaur 
most faithful aud obedient ser- 
vant, 

J. Leslie Foster. 

To tit VnptUttri of the Belfast Magazine. 

ACORKESPQNDENT »n your 
last number, having in one of 
the Detached Anecdotes, lashed the 
hypocrisy and pretence often dis- 
coverable in prayers both public and. 
private, a writer in the Belfast Nejws- 
i-etttr, under the signature of A.I>.- 



has thought proper to make some 
violent assertions against tue wri- 
ter, in tli* usual. style of malevo- 
lence which characterises the pa^es 
of that venal and time-semiig print, 
A.B., however, wi.th the pioverbiaj 
blindness of a bigot, makes random; 
blows, which, not bein h well aimed, 
have no eil'ect. According to ttie, 
cant of his school, he , denominates 
his opponent attieistical ; yet it ii« 
bad known the meaning of wqrds, 
he might have recollected, that 
" blasphemous" meant, injurious to 
the Deity. These expiessKuT»,t hirer 
fore, would be incongruously used 
by an atheist, or one ( who .cud n«t 
believe in the existence of a God. 
feo much for A.B.'s charity, and , so 
much lor his jncorreci manner of 
applying epithets which he so, illib- 
erally and lgnorantly uses. 

Prayers have often been. the. whet- 
stones on which nation?, both, an« 
cient and modern, have sharpened 
their swords' Meii, under the a- 
bused name, of religiot), have let 
loose some of the worst, passions 
of human nature. A celebrated 
female wriler,* in a paniphjet, en- 
titled, «' The Sins ot Govern 'lie ut, 
the Sins ot ihe Ration'," pubiislte.l 
in 17!H, has aptly illustrated the 
subject... 

"There is a 'notion which has a 
direct tendency, to make us unjust, 
because u teiiiis to make fs tliiuk 
God »o; 1 mean the idea vviiitli 
most nations have eiuertaiued, that 
they are tue pecqiiar favourites, «1 
Heaven. VVe, nourish our pi' me by 
loudly fancy uig Uia). vve arc i.ne on- 
ly nation lor whom the proviuei.ee 
of. God exerts itself; the only na- 
tion whose lorui ot worship is a^ree- 
abje to huu, the, only nation which 
he has eiwyvyed yvitn a coiiipeient 
stare of wisdom to lramt wise laws 



» Anna Letitia BirbauW. 



28 Refutation of Assertions in the News-Letter, [Jbly. 



and rational governments. Each 
nation is to itself the fleece of Gi- 
deon, and drinks exclusively the 
dew of science ; but as God is no 
respecter of persons, so neither is 
he of nations; he has not, like 
earthly monaichs, his favourites. 
There is a great deal, eyen in our 
thanksgivings, which is exception- 
able on this account; 'God, we 
thank thee, that we are not like o- 
ther nations ;' — yet we freely load 
ourselves with every degree of 
guilt ; but then we like to consider 
ourselves as a child that is chidden, 
and others as outcasts. 

" When the workings of these bad 
passions are swelled to their height 
by mutual animosity and opposition, 
war ensues. War is a state in 
which all our feelings and our du- 
ties suffer a total and strange in- 
version ; a state in which 
• Life dies, death lives, and nature breeds 
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious 

things.* 
A state in which it becomes our 
business to hurt and annoy our 
neighbour by every possible means ; 
instead of cultivating, to destroy; 
instead of building, to pull down; 
instead of peopling, to depopulate; 
a stole in which we drink the tears, 
and feed upon the misery of our 
fellow-creatures ; such a state, there- 
fore, requires the extremest necessity 
to justify it ; it ought not to be the 
common and usual state of so- 
ciety. As both parties cannot be 
in the right, titers is always an e- 
qual chance, at least, to either of 
them, of being in the wrong; but 
as both parties may be to blame, 
and most commonly ate, the chance 
is very great indeed against its be- 
ing entered into from any adequate 
cause ; yet war may b« said to be, 
with regard to nations, the sin which 
most easily besets them. When we 
carry our" eyes back through the 
K'ti'T records of our b.-tory, v.e 



see wars of plunder, wirs of con- 
quest, wars of religion, wars of 
pride, wars of succession, wars of idle 
speculation, wars of unjust interfer- 
ence, anil hardly among them one 
war of necessary self defence in any 
of our essential or very important 
interests. We devote a certain 
number of men to perish on land 
and sea, and the rest of us sleep 
sound, and protected in our usual 
occupations, talk of the events of 
war as what diversifies the flat uni- 
formity of life. 

" We should, therefore, do well to 
translate this word war into lan- 
guage more intelligible to us. When 
we pay our army and our n;ivy es- 
timates, let us set down so much 
for killing, so much for maiming, so 
much for making widows and or- 
phans, so much for bringing famine 
upon a district, so much for cor- 
rupting citizens and subjects into 
spies and traitors, so much lor ruin- 
ing industrious tradesmen, and mak- 
ing bankrupts, (of that species of 
distress, at least, we can form an 
idea,) so much for letting loose 
the demons of fury, rapine and 
lust, within the foul of cultivated 
society, and giving to the brutal fe- 
rocity of the most ferocious, its full 
scope and range of invention. We 
t,hall by this means know what we 
have paid our money for, whether 
we have made a good bargain, and 
whether the account is likely to 
pass -elsewhere. We must take in 
too, all those concomitant circum- 
stances which make war; considered 
as battle, the least part of itself, pars 
minima sui. We must iix our eyes, 
not on the hero returning with con- 
quest, nor yet on the gallant officer 
dying in the bed of honour, the 
subject of picture and of song, but 
on the private soldier, forced into the 
service, exhausted by camp-sickness 
and fatigue, pale, emaciated, cravvl- 
ti/g to an hospital with the prospect 



1814-3 Refutation of Assertions m the News- Letter. 29 



of life, perhaps a long life, Wasted, 
useless, and suffering. We must 
think of the uncounted tears of her 
who weeps alone, because the only 
being who shared her sentiments is 
taken from her ; no martial music 
sounds in unison with her feelings; 
the long day passes, and he returns 
not. She does not shed her sorrows 
over his grave, for she has never 
learnt whether he ever had one. 
If he had returned, his exertions 
would not have been remembered 
individually, for he only made a 
small imperceptible part of a human 
machine, called a regiment. We 
must take in the long sickness 
which no glory soothes, occasioned 
by distress of mind, anxiety and 
ruined fortunes. These are not 
fancy pictures, and if you please 
to heighten them, y°u can every 
one of you do it for yourselves. 
We must take in the consequences, 
felt perhaps for ages, before a coun- 
try which has been completely de- 
solated, lifts its head again ; like a 
torrent of lava, its worst mischief is 
not the first overwhelming ruin of 
towns and palaces, but the long 
sterility to which it condemns the 
tract it has covered with its stream. 
Add the danger to regular govern- 
ments which are changed by war, 
sometimes to anarchy, and some* 
times to depostism. Add all these, 
and then let us think when a ge- 
neral performing these exploits, is 
saluteil with " well done good 
and faithful servant/' whether the 
plaudit is likely to be echoed in 
another place. 

" In this guilty business there is a 
circumstance which greatly aggra- 
vates its guilt, and that is the im- 
piety of calling on the Divine Being 
to assist us in it. Almost all na- 
tions have been in the habit of mix- 
ing with their bad passions a show* 
of religion, and of prefacing these 
iheir murders whh prayers, and the 



solemnities of worship. When they 
send out their armies to desolate a 
country, and destroy the fair face of 
nature, they have the presumption 
to hope that the sovereign of the 
universe will condescend to be their 
auxiliary, and to enter into their 
petty and despicable contests. Their 
prayer, if put into plain language, 
would run thus: <?od of love, father 
of all the families of the earth, we 
are going to tear in pieces our 
brethren of mankind, butour strength 
is not equal to our fury, we be- 
seech thee to assist us in the work 
of slaughter. Go out we pray lbr ■. 
with our fleets and armies : we call 
them christian, and we have inter- 
woven in our banners and the de- 
corations of our arms the symbols 
of a suffering religion, that we may 
fight under the cross upon which 
our Saviour died. Whatever mis- 
chief we do we shall do it in thy 
name; we hope, therefore, thou wilt 
protect us in it. Thou, who bast 
made of one blood all the dwellers, 
upon the earth, we tru thou wilt 
view us alone 'with partial favour, 
and enable us to bring misery upon 
every other quarter of the globe. 
Now if we really expect such 
prayers to be answered, we are the 
weakest, if not, we are the most 
hypocritical of beings." 

If this extract should be thought 
long, it is hoped that its excellence 
will prevent your readers from con- 
sidering it tedious. It serves to ex- 
pose the slavish and exclusive A.B., 
who is ready to damn all those who 
do not adopt with him the narrow 
views of his sect. If bigotry and 
malevolence did not contract bis 
mind, he ought to know that opi- 
nions very different from his may 
be held without any approach to- 
wards atheism. It is the mere trick 
of a party thus to call names. An- 
other instance of the misrepreseo- 
tattoo of A.B. occurs in the asser- 



30 Thoughts on Fasts and Tltanksgiving days. [July. 



tion, that in the Political Retros- 
pect pages 501 — 503, topes were 
expressed " of another revolution 
taking place in France, with all the 
horrors of the last." I have read 
over these page;, and find nothing 
in them, which will bear the con- 
struction of this prejudiced writer, 
who is a fit companion for the par- 
ty-editor who so readily gives a place 
to his malevolent compositions, with 
a truly congenial malignity of dis- 
position. Neither writer nor editor 
need be afraid of receiving your 
praise, for fallen indeed you must be, i f 
vou would praise such wretched ef- 
iiUions of bigotry, illiberality, and 
misrepresentation. Let the editor 
of the News- Letter undisturbed con- 
tinue to advertise gratis your Maga- 
zine, and instead of cursing as be 
designs, really confer an advantage 
by turning public attention towards 
you. 

No Bigot. 



7* At Prtpriiion »f At Bctfatt JUijgaMM. 



HOWEVER general the objection 
to the proposition may be, I 
hesitate not to assert my belief, 
that thanksgiving for peace, and 
prayers on behalf of the success of 
war, are links of the same chain. 
The former as well as the latter ap- 
pear to me necessarily to imply the 
idea that the Diety is the mover, 
promoter and carrier on of war. 
Whereas nothing can be more er- 
roneous. It entirely owes its origin 
to the base intrigues, selfish de- 
signs, and evil passions of mem, in 
direct contradiction to every just 
sentiment, and right apprehension 
of the attributes of the Supreme 
Being. Man makes- war of his own 
adboro ; it is his own act and 
deed, hie may cease from it or he 
may prolong its continuance just iu 



the same manner as it is in bis pow- 
er respecting the practice of every 
other evil habit. Were not this the 
case he would not be a free agent, 
nor accountable for the actions of 
his life. We involve ourselves and 
one another in the miseries of war. 
To this wrong purpo.se ho^r many 
devote their time and their talents, 
Every^ nerve is strained, every fa- 
culty is called ipto action, and ex- 
istence is wasted in accomplishing 
purposes for which thousands are 
made to mourn. The world is in- 
undated with the crimes of rapine 
and slaughter, and to add to the ini- 
quity of our proceedings, appeals 
are frequently made to the Diety 
in behalf of the justness of our 
cause. We prolong the contest or 
terminate the struggle as occasions 
arise that we fancy will give per- 
manency to our unjust acquirements, 
or add to the stock of pur own aggran- 
disement. Therefore, to give thanks 
on these occasions . is in my opi- 
nion, tacitly to acknowledge that 
the business of .war is. nut ours,,, but 
entered into, caroled on and termi- 
minatedf at (he. will .and, express in- 
stance of the Deity. Were this the 
case, man. would not be. accounta- 
ble for the evibi ijs. continuance 
occasions in the wqdd. Thus des- 
troying at once our own, accounta- 
bility, for the crimes or which, ire 
ourselyes have been the immedi- 
ate cause. 

But throwing aside all these con- 
siderations, M> wh,a,t purpose is a^ll 
this ostentatious paraileof public fasta 
and public thanksgiving. It has only 
the , appearance of devotion, with- 
out the reality. t .I cap perceive no 
influence it has on our general line 
of conduct; we.aje not made better 
by their observance. . I fear they 
have rather a contrary tendency, 
by fostering a spirit of pride, and 
by inducing mistaken views of our- 
selies. We think by conforming